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Activate America(R) Brings Together YMCAs Nationwide to Promote Small Steps Toward a Healthier Lifestyle During 'America on the Move Week With the YMCA,' September 22-29, 2007
Date:9/17/2007

Campaign Aims to Motivate a Million People Nationwide to take 10 Billion Steps and Encourages Communities to Assess and Improve Their 'Walkability'

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 1,500 YMCAs nationwide will reach out to their communities with events promoting active living and healthy eating during "America On the Move Week with the YMCA" September 22-29, 2007. The campaign, a partnership with the America On the Move Foundation, aims to educate and motivate people to make two small daily changes that will add up to significant long-term health benefits.

America On the Move Week with the YMCA is part of Activate America (R), the YMCA's response to our nation's lifestyle health crisis. Through Activate America, YMCAs are redefining themselves and engaging communities across the country to provide better opportunities for Americans of all ages who are struggling to achieve and maintain well-being of spirit, mind and body.

"National headlines and warnings about our nation's health crisis are not inspiring change. We must get out there into our communities and work directly with people to help them take the first critical steps toward a healthier life," said Neil Nicoll, president and CEO of YMCA of the USA. "Through America on the Move Week with the YMCA, we will welcome millions of health seekers into a community of support and encouragement as they commit to making minor lifestyle changes that will lead to significant health improvements."

Recent reports indicate that obesity and associated health risks continue to rise nationwide. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes are the nation's leading killers, affecting 90 million Americans, young and old. Increased physical activity and healthy eating is of critical importance to prevent and control many of these illnesses. America On the Move Week with the YMCA encourages people to make two small daily changes -- taking 2,000 more steps (the equivalent of about one mile) and eating only 100 fewer calories -- which research shows can prevent the average annual weight gain of one to two pounds per year.

"People are often so overwhelmed by the negative news and focus on extreme diets and exercise plans that they are tuning out instead of taking action," said James O. Hill, Ph.D., America On the Move Foundation co-founder. "Partnering with the YMCA provides a huge opportunity for us to personally engage with millions of people and show them how small steps can reap big rewards."

In 2006, more than 800,000 people participated in America On the Move Week with the YMCA activities, logging 9.3 million steps. This year, YMCAs have set a national goal of 1 million participants and a collective total of 10 billion steps during the week.

This year, the YMCA is also incorporating neighborhood/community "walkability" assessments as part of its America On the Move Week with the YMCA activities. Community members are encouraged to take walks and complete questionnaires to determine how "friendly" the community is for pedestrians and cyclists by rating criteria including room to walk, ease in crossing streets, behavior of drivers and general safety and pleasantness.

"One of the most effective ways to increase physical activity is to incorporate it into everyday routines. Walking is an easy and accessible activity that people can do every day," said Nicoll. "Unfortunately, not all communities are built to promote physical activity. By getting more members of the community moving and helping assess their community's friendliness toward pedestrians of all abilities, the YMCA seeks to identify and break down barriers to active living."

To get involved in America On the Move Week with the YMCA, people can contact their local YMCAs for information about local events or visit http://www.ymca.net for a list of participating YMCAs.

At http://www.ymca.net, participants can also sign up to track their steps online and follow their progress on a new YMCA-themed virtual trail that highlights the YMCA's long history of promoting health and well-being. Once registered, participants will have access to tools for walkability assessments and helpful tips on how to add more steps and shave 100 calories.

America On the Move Week with the YMCA builds upon a national partnership between the YMCA and the America On the Move Foundation and aims to motivate and mobilize thousands of Americans to take small steps towards a healthier lifestyle. America On the Move Foundation is a national non-profit organization with the mission of improving the quality of life -- for individuals, families, communities and society. PepsiCo and its Smart Spot(R) products are supporting this effort as a national sponsor of YMCA Activate America and the National Presenting Sponsor of America On the Move.

About YMCA of the USA: YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for the nation's 2,663 YMCAs, which serve nearly 20.2 million people each year, including 9.4 million children under the age of 18. Through a variety of programs and services focused on the holistic development of children and youth, health and well-being for all and family strengthening, YMCAs unite men, women and children of all ages, faiths, backgrounds, abilities and income levels. From urban areas to small towns, YMCAs have proudly served America's communities for nearly 160 years by building healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Visit http://www.ymca.net to find your local YMCA.

About America On the Move Foundation: America On the Move Foundation (AOM) is a national nonprofit organization helping individuals, families and communities across our nation make positive changes to improve the health and quality of life. With more than a million participants on and offline, America On the Move(R) initiates and maintains individual, social, and environmental behavior changes that support healthy eating and active living habits in our society. AOM's science-based programs provide the support and tools that help individuals of all ages manage weight effectively through energy balance. For more information, please visit: http://www.americaonthemove.org.

About PepsiCo and the Smart Spot Program: The Smart Spot(TM) program from PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP) is the national presenting sponsor of America On the Move(TM) and a proud sponsor of YMCA Activate America(R). As one of the world's largest food and beverage companies, PepsiCo recognizes its responsibility to encourage people to adopt healthier, active lifestyles -- beginning with its products. In 2004, PepsiCo launched the Smart Spot(TM) symbol -- the symbol of smart choices made easy. This symbol is a simple labeling system that makes it easier for consumers to identify PepsiCo products that contribute to a healthier lifestyle and explains why each product is a better choice. The Smart Spot(TM) symbol appears on over 300 PepsiCo products including Tropicana Pure Premium(R) orange juice, Aquafina(R) water, Gatorade(R) Thirst Quencher, Baked! Lay's(R) snacks, Quaker(R) Oatmeal and Diet Pepsi(R) soft drinks, among many others. For more information, visit http://www.smartspot.com.

Contact:

Lynn Harmon Kelly Kennai Grunig

Harmon Group for YMCA of the USA YMCA of the USA

314.604.1145 202.835.9043 Ext. 15

lynnharmon@sbcglobal.net kelly.kennai@ymca.net


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SOURCE YMCA of the USA
Copyright©2007 PR Newswire.
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